Mage Wars Discovery Session

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Yes, we know the game has been out for a while, but believe it or not it was on my shelf since almost 6 months. I was lucky enough to get it in a Miami shop during my honeymoon ! It was like $30 only compared to a whooping 55-60 € for the base box here in Europe. That explains also maybe why there are not that many Mage Wars players around (at least in Belgium). Finally, I got a chance to go for it with Wouter – one of the key trustees of Boardgame Monkeys – after a good burger at La Table Food & Games last Thursday.

The great thing about Arcane Wonders is that they took the time to not only publish nice explanation videos, but also guides on “how to teach the game” and other nice documents to find back on their website. It really helps to get you into the game, you feel as a gamer that you’re really being taking care of !

So back to the game itself, we decided to go for the beginners’ setup but directly jumping onto the Warlock and the Priestess. I’ve put together the recommended cards onto the spellbooks (see rules) we were off for a quick start. Surely, the first few minutes where challenging because we simply couldn’t understand what all those cards where doing; with a large variety of cards it was hard to pick any strategy at all.

Warlock

We went for cards that we more or less understood for the first few rounds.  We both manage to put a few creatures on the board and cast a few spells, but I quickly end up cornered (we played on the starter setup of a 2×3 board) with Wouter pushing aggressively on the attacks, destroying my creatures one after the other. On top of that, he placed a spell that obliged me to pay 1 life point every time I cast a spell. In no time I ended up below the bar of 10 points. The time to recover myself and cast some healing spells, it was already too late for me.

Priestess

Few observations on the game & material:

  • On the board itself, it does get packed when you lay down additional cards under/next-to your character. We’re used to figurines boardgames by know and it was a bit odd to lay down some cards on the board.
  • We definitively will need to buy some extra dices for this game – just because I don’t like to share but also because it’s not practical if you have to take some dices from your opponent to play your counter attack while we’re still in the overall action phase.
  • The cards quality is good, the board is sturdy and pawns are really of good quality. We cannot complain at all about the material.

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We decided to give it another try next Monday night – just to confirm we like the game. Admittedly, by then we will re-read both the rulebook and watch a few extra videos, because although everything is extremely well explained in the 31 first pages of the rulebook, it’s a lot to absorb for a first game.

Age of Conan (Version 2009)

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Supposing you are the one that read all manual and are trying to teach your group and enjoy their first game of Conan, you could follow this, and then tell me how it went out.

Start with just the basics: Setup army units, explain neutral, friendly and enemy provinces. Setup the adventure deck, explain Conan mechanics, determine Conan player using just the bidding tokens. Take a blue die, show the military icon. Throughout the first adventure, use just military actions. This will be a good start since you are using Conan (will satisfy the ones playing because of the theme) and people that know Risk (War, in Brazil) will perceive similarities but see that it´s not quite the same. If it is a 2-player game, use Aquilonia and Turan and leave out sorcery tokens (not really confusing, but this first adventure should be really simple – leave it for the moment when somebody got a really bad roll). Side effect: all the adventure tiles will either be discarded or go to Conan player. Better not mention gold or sorcery exchange, because it´s not useful yet.

Then, add the politics: Do change of adventure, then setup emissaries (2 for player) and distribute initial gold, since maybe someone will collect gold through intrigue. Show the blue die icon for intrigue. Do just intrigue actions for three steps of the second adventure – should be enough for covering all intrigue actions issues. Remember to mention savage provinces restriction. The remain of the adventure, turn the die icon to Conan+Court and perform just the Conan actions. Explain the raider tokens use and that their effect would be wanted on enemy provinces – make sure no one confuses them with savage provinces or the axes in red dice which use almost the same icon but are unrelated.

Next, introduce Strategy Deck: Now that everyone is comfortable with Bid for Conan, military and intrigue contests, distribute 2 strategy cards and explain the modification to the mechanics. For the next adventure you can start using the fate dice as usual, all actions can now be performed (except getting kingdom cards as Court action).

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At the end of first era: make sure you gave Empire Points for each fort/city players achieved. Resolve any raider as usual. Then, introduce the objectives deck, draw the four objectives at random and see who got lucky. Next, everyone will understand the use for their gold. Next, the purpose for adventure tiles – it´s the time for the artifact cards.

What´s left? Kingdom decks: By this time, everyone should be comfortable with all major aspects of the game and, probably, with less confusion than otherwise. You can decide to either continue normally the game, or play three more ages (ending up with 4) or start it over with all the rules from start. Even if you start over another day this tutorial session alone should be enjoyable. I left out the kingdom decks for the end because they are the major chaos-factor in the game, they have their particular mechanics complexity and will only make sense for those that know all the other rules. Since it is language dependant AND private information, is the part of the game that needs more advanced (and grown-up) players. Depending on your group, Magic: the Gathering could be a good reference for explaining it.

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PACG: Characters Class

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Some of you are new to Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (or PACG in short) or to the gaming world overall; so to help you out here is a short article explaining you the types of Characters Class you can pick up in this game. You’ll find the detailed templates on the paizo website (single download file) if you want to dig in and have a further look at all characters.

If you’re getting hooked up into PACG, a nice additional buy for your sessions are those characters mini-playmats that really comes hand to keep your table nice and tight without having many cards flying around. We use them and I would highly recommend it.84288_409492A_SS_Paizo_7Pk_2

PACG: Custom Base Decks

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Together with our core team of adventurers (Cindy, David, Filip, PG), we’re just making our way out of the introduction campaign called “Perils Of Lost Coast” of the Rise Of The Runelords base-set from Paizo. We quickly realized that the suggested decks in the rulebook are not the most optimal. Should we built custom started decks for our characters before we start the Burnt Offerings campaign ?

Alright, it’s a long question but I found actually an interesting answer from Boris Dvorkin on a BGG forum post back in November 2014. Find a full  reworked summary of his input on this article page.

A 6 Month Challenge

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I propose to launch a challenge to my fellow gamers in this group, starting 1st of January 2015, that will run for 6 months.

Let’s call it: The Monkeys 3×3 Challenge.

For this challenge: you should pick up 3 games you will play 3 times (with the same or other people, up to you). The purpose will be to play games that are on your shelf and get better at them. Once you’ve started playing your 9 games, you should report out on them so I can share your progress & thoughts in our newsletters. We will organize also dedicated events to make it happen !

So you’re in ? Start thinking about the 3 games to play with your fellow Boardgame Monkeys 🙂

Flamingo adventure begins

0593b7bebda82a6997bda81c95775432 The building is huge … spacious and just perfect for gaming nights ! Yes, we are moving in on Tuesday’s at the well-known bar called Flamingo in Brussels.

It’s location (see Google Maps) makes it easy for both public transport as well as car access. Admittedly, yes we’re still in the city and you might have to drive around the block to find a parking spot, but still, we’re not 100 % downtown, so it should be manageable to park.

What about the place ? Well, I would suggest you just drop by for our first Monthly Flamingo on Tuesday 20th January to discover it ! You can register (free) on our Meetup page to join us. We have already 18 people joining – that just 1 day after posting the event details.

The bar has good ratings on the web, you will be able to drink (including some cocktails) and also eat (they have a kitchen) some snacks.BGM---Afterwork-Banner-V3

What about the games ? We will play light and medium weight games – leaving aside the heavy weight category for this first time at the place. I want to ensure that everybody accommodates well, in a nice and cosy atmosphere. There are also a lot of new players joining for the 1st time, so it’s good to have a game selection that enables everybody to connect and have fun.

 

 

Monkeys’ Statistics: Winter 2014

This is now a recurrent update I provide to our members every quarter. For many of you, this will be the first newsletter you receive. Indeed, we have a whole bunch of people who registered to our meetup in the last 3 months (24 people in October and 16 people in November). We’re actually close to reaching the 300 members now.

 


Like in many groups, we do have active and inactive members. Our split is fairly good compared to other Meetup groups, we’re trending towards 1/3 of the members who are actually joining us on events (with a slight increase that you can see on below statistics).
You’ve all been seeing the media/press speaking about boardgames in the past months, it’s becoming a really new hype to play boardgames and the national (both French and Dutch) Belgian press is actually relaying this trend. It’s all benefits for groups like ours of course.
La Table Food & Games, our “regular hang-out” had 4 articles (in Le Soir, La Libre, La DH) and 2 TV and radio interviews in the last months. Being sponsored by big publishers like Asmodee, Repos Prod and others they are also now having on an ongoing basis all the new releases available for free to play.
Although it was back in August, the 2nd edition of the Brussels Games Festival (4000 visitors this year) gave the opportunity for many people to discover also not only the gaming place but also key actors of boardgaming scene in Brussels.

Quarterly Newsletter – Winter 2014

Winter is approaching and while the last sunshine light is cutting through the cold weather it’s once again time for our quarterly and last Meetup newsletter of the year. It’s a long one, so grab your tea or coffee and read on !
We have behind us very busy weekends filled with various gaming fairs, from the Spiel 2014 where many of you could spent some hard earned money on the latest trendy games to the local fairs in Belgium (just last weekend was Spel 2014 in Antwerpen and this weekend is the Jeu T’aime festival in Brussels).

Also, you noticed that the design of the Meetup page has slightly changed. I’ve created some new graphics to announce our events with matching Meetup header and newsletter banners. Hope you like it ! More fuzzy, more dynamic – that’s the trend we’re going for.


 

Organize & Play

Some of you asked me why we did not have this quarter the regular “monthly open event” and the “Brunch Sessions” as we used to have previously. Let me share a few words of explanation.

You (might) know that I’m wearing another “hat” with Mushroom Games which I’m managing with Nicholas Bodart. We launched this year in June the game Time Masters (a card deck building game) first in French (1600+ boxes out of our 2000 first print run sold) and then in English (300+ boxes out of our 500 first print run sold).

We have both been very busy in various fairs selling the game, with a focus for Spiel 2014 in October of course. While many of my weekends were dedicated to Time Masters, I couldn’t spend additional time organizing sessions during the week, that’s also a reason why monthly events did not take place.
event_431904867Additionally, I’ve got married to my beautiful wife in September. With the preparation and honeymoon, which basically took me off a whole month there was not much time left for boardgames.

For the Brunch Sessions, I am dependent on the owners of La Table to plan and organize the Sundays. As they had on their side quite a lot of catering to do for weddings (September/October being the “full” season) and some birthdays. They are also working with the Motel ONE, down the street, who is having regularly conventions for which they provide services.

All in all, this explains that the 2014 winter time had less sessions than you expect organized by myself … but … but … but … since a while now we have very active Event Organizers in the group, who hosted not less than 31 tables (22 different dates) in the last 3 months !
Let’s also cheer up for the guys organizing those sessions for you to join & have fun !!  Big thank you to Cindy, David, Mathijs, Oliver, Wouter to make this Meetup a success.

The Meetup is now at maturity (in my eyes) because it is running by passionate boardgamers who have the spirit to explain and share their games with the group. This will enable us to move to the next level in coming 2015 !


 

The New Stuff

I have activated my network to look for new places to play boardgames.

  • Are we not happy with La Table Food & Games ? Yes we are !
  • Are we going to leave La Table ? No we are not !

Then what are you talking about ! Well, I heard a few times people who told me they would love to come over and play with us, but are not able to show up because it’s on Thursdays/Fridays and it clashes with other activities. Knowing that La Table is only open on those days for boardgames, I am looking at alternatives in Brussels to find nice spots to play games.

We could just play at Outpost that is right in front – of course they know our group already – but the place is not exactly what I’m looking for thinking about a nice boardgaming experience (not speaking about the fact that Tuesday’s is already booked for the “Sajou players” – French Speaking, they have chess events, netrunner events, etc.. basically their calendar is already running quite full). So here’s the plan (options are not mutually exclusive) :

  • Option 1: Let’s Play Together is having party-games sessions called “Apero Jeux”  with a dedicated staff at Flamingo, Belga Café, Bar Du Matin and Potemkine. I’m in talks with them to see if we could expand this to “heavier games” or have some “monthly joint sessions” with them.
  • Option 2: The Hyperion E-Sports bar is looking to expand their activities and one of the ideas is to have boardgames sessions. I’m checking out with them what we could organize probably over the weekend (Sundays ?).
  • Option 3: FarmParck is a park nearby my house (behind Tour & Taxi) that was renovated this year. They have in the middle of this park a place to meet & greet and would be interested to host some boardgames or roleplay sessions. I’m currently talking with them to see what are the options.
  • Option 4: MuntPunt is another place hosting boardgames events. It’s downtown Place de la Monnaie and Wouter is already in contact with them. We might end up going there on their Wednesday monthly sessions. This could also be an opening to Flemish clubs/associations. I need to follow-up with Wouter …

Legendary (Marvel’s Deck Building Game):
I’ll be running some cooperative campaigns to crush Villains, defeat the Mastermind and triumph as true Heroes as of early next year. The card decks will be every time different (different heroes, villains, schemes & masterminds). The idea is to follow the story in some comics series (more details to come through the meetup Events). Schedule: January 2015.

The “New to Boardgames” – Session:
If you are new or never came to any of our events, this one will be for you ! I will personally take you through the various types of boardgames that exists, explain you basic game mechanics and objectives. Think of this as a fun education session on boardgames. Schedule: February-March 2015.

2 Players Gaming Session:
A special gaming night where we’ll rotate from table to table with exclusively 2 players games. That will allow you to try out multiple games in one night and connect more closely with other members in a “tête à tête”. Yes, I’ll ask La Table for candle lights if you really insist 🙂 . Schedule: February 2015.

Time Masters Tournament:
We will have a friendly tournament (new players welcome) with some prices for the winners and extra discounts for those who want to buy the game that night after playing with it. Schedule: February 2015.

Pandemic Survival Campaign:
Another cooperative game – if not the “best one” for many boardgamers. We will try to run several tables in parallel, with the same scenario’s. The winners ? the last table alive who contained the contamination. Schedule: March 2015.

Pathfinder ACG adventure:
The ACG stands for Adventure Card Games; at this moment, I’m trying it out only with a core group of players, just to get hold on the mechanics. I know more people are interested in running some adventures. Schedule: April 2015.